Sunday, January 24, 2010

Indie #17 - 'Shredder' Neil Brocklebank signature model

No I don't know who Neil Brocklebank is either. Looking on the Internet would suggest he's a shredder from York, but that's all I know. Anyway, here's the spec...

Body: Solid Alder
Body Top: Curly maple
Body Binding: 2 stripes abalone
Neck: Hard maple
Neck Binding: Abalone
Neck Construction: Set neck
Fingerboard: Ebony
Fingerboard Inlay: Neil's inlay/coloured holes
Headstock Binding: Abalone
Head Machine: Grover
Top Nut: Locking nut
Bridge: FRT500/FR tail
Hardware: Black
Pickups: 2 humbucker alnico/Indie custom
Electrics: 1 volume, 1 coil tap, 3-way toggle
Truss Rod: 2-way dual action
Scale Length/Frets: 648mm(25.5")/24 frets
Finish: See-thru blue

However this doesn't really get across all the little design touches that make this a more interesting than usual superstrat.

For a start it's got a set-neck. This is not massively unusual but certainly a change from the usual bolt-on fare. The body has a pretty maple top visible through the finish and an abalone inlay that follows the line of the neck.

Most unusual is the control layout. They are quite far forward and inset into the body. The 3-way toggle is on the base of the lower horn, like the Washburn Nuno Bettencourt models, but the way it's inset means it's more out of the way. The volume control is almost completely flush with the body but a scooped section means you can roll it with your finger or the palm of your hand. So it's accessible but not in the way. The usual solution to this problem is to have it further back but then on Floyd Rose equipped guitars there's then a fair bit of metal in the way if you're looking for it. Finally there is a red coil tap push switch hidden on the underside of the guitar. At first glance this looks like a damn stupid place to put it but then in use it's remarkably easy to find.

Then there's the fretboard. Instead of inlays you've got holes right through the neck. It's almost like somebody was doing a DIY job of fitting some LEDs and never got round to it. In practice the holes make zero difference but you can sort of feel the position you're in at the back of the neck if you plant your thumb on them. The holes are specific to the Brocklebank Shredders, standard ones have the usual dot inlays so this must have been his idea. It's certainly unusual.

The thing I didn't immediately spot is that this has a special strap button at the top horn. With standard buttons screwed into a very pointy horn they never seem to sit very nicely and can damage the finish. Indie have fitted a button with a long section that goes into the body, which is much more nicely finished than usual. Of course this has stopped me fitting straplocks, but that's no big deal.

In play it works well like all my Indies. The only issue is that the Indie Alnico 'Custom' pickups aren't maybe as suited to it as they could be. I reckon it would have been better off with some of their Ceramic 'Extreme' ones. The low profile licensed Floyd Rose is adequate although when set for correct intonation almost fouls the body routing. I'm tempted to buy some replacement saddles and shorten them.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Indie #16 - 'G type' army green

Well I was playing a lot of AC/DC and this came up. The specs are pretty predictable...

Body: Solid Mahagony
Neck: Mahagony Set Neck
Fingerboard: Rosewood, 22 Fret, Scale: Length 24.3/4”
Headstock: Black, w/ Grover Machine Heads
Hardware: Chrome, Tune-O-Matic Stoptail
Pickups: Indie Custom
Controls: 2 Volume, 2 Tone, 3 Way Toggle Switch
Truss Rod: 2-Way Dual Action
Finish: Army Green

It's a very conventional SG copy apart from the slightly unusual colour. I'm not terribly keen on this Army Green Indie use for a couple of models but cheapskates can't be choosers.

When it arrived and I did my usual clean and re-string I found that the bridge bushes were slightly loose in the body. I'm not sure if this was a manufacturing issue or down to something the previous owner had done. Nevertheless as the damage wasn't bad I did the 'soldering iron and superglue' trick to swell then harden the wood and it was quickly fixed.

Sound wise it's much of a muchness with the Les Pauls that are the obvious thing to compare it with. I like the light body but this and the strap button position does make it somewhat neck heavy and prone to diving on a strap. I do like the good upper fret access, why aren't SGs more popular?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Indie #15 - 'Shape' custom double-cut Festival

Back in summer 2009, Indie planned to run and promote their own music festival. They even came up with a special edition commemorative guitar for it. Sadly the festival didn't happen, 2009 was the year of the credit crunch and general economic downturn and it had to be cancelled.

A fair few 'Festival' guitars made it into circulation so I picked one up. It's actually a fairly unusual spec. for Indie, being one of their double-cut models with a vintage style trem., humbucker and two single coils. This makes it quite a good contrast to the rest of the Indie stable.

Body: Solid mahogany Double Cut
Body Top: Solid Mahogany designed
Body Binding: None
Neck: 1pc mahogany
Neck Binding: None
Neck Construction: Set neck
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Fingerboard Inlay: 4mm dot + Indie logo
Headstock Binding: None
Head Machine: Indie diecast tuner
Top Nut: Graphite
Bridge: Indie Trem System
Hardware: Chrome
Pickups: 2 Single and 1 humbucker/Indie M8 standard
Electrics: 1 volume, 1 tone, 3-way toggle
Truss Rod: 2-way dual action
Scale Length/Frets: 635mm(25")/22 frets
Finish: Festival Blue under lacquer Logo

The 'Festival' logo is a decal underneath the lacquer and is really nicely done. I'm not a fan of vintage trems, but this is actually a Wilkinson one and works pretty well. The M8 single coils are very very free from EMI noise, if I didn't know better I'd think they were mini humbuckers. They are also well matched with the M8 humbucker, offering a different sound without a massive difference in output. It's not quite got the strat sound but it's closer than my other 'Shape' Indies.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Indie #14 - 'Custom shop flying V'

My aren't satin black guitars hard to photograph indoors without serious lights.

This is the big one from the Indie collection, my custom shop flying V. One of 16 produced it's essentially an Extreme Plus in a V shape with a licensed Floyd Rose.

Indie don't have the spec. for these on their website any more, but here's what I reckon it is.

Body: Solid mahogany
Body Top: Flamed maple
Body Binding: None
Neck: 5pcs mahogany
Neck Binding: None
Neck Construction: Set neck
Fingerboard: Ebony
Fingerboard Inlay: Tree of life
Headstock Binding: None
Head Machine: Grover locking
Top Nut: Locking
Bridge: Licensed Floyd Rose double locking tremolo
Hardware: Black
Pickups:2 Indie DV8
Electrics: 1 volume, 1 tone, 3-way, 2 min switch
Truss Rod: 2-way dual action
Scale Length/Frets: 635mm(25")/22 frets
Finish: Satin black

Sound wise, it's not got quite as dark a sound as the Extreme Plus which is probably down to the Floyd Rose. Although I've only ever played it on passive as the active pre-amp is faulty and it came like this. I spoke to Indie about getting it fixed and they were quite happy to get this done, but I haven't got around to dropping it off with them. I don't trust couriers. Every time I buy a guitar and have to get it shipped I worry about it until it's actually in my hands. If I can, I collect.

I like flying Vs. A lot.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New year, new project

OK, so I actually started this on New Years Eve but I finished it up today.

When I bought the Indie Target Les Paul I thought it may be amusing to make it closer to the Gibson Zakk Wylde signature models as I had a lot of the parts needed, most notably an EMG Zakk Wylde Pro set I bought for something else long before this guitar fell into my hands.

I started out with this...

I was aiming for this...

...and ended up with this...

...which I reckon is as good as an approximation as I'll get with some simple hardware changes.

The EMGs are interesting to play with and do the ridiculous gain/sustain thing that the Seymour Duncan Blackouts I've got in my Jackson do. Although they're perhaps slightly less OTT. I'll need to do a back to back comparison at some point and also throw in the Indie active pre-amp I have in the Extreme Plus.